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Ernest Bramley Dalton and
Ethel Florence Douthwaite Dalton

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts
Pages 307 - 308

Ernest was born to Robert and Eliza Dalton on February 3, 1888 at York, in Yorkshire, England. He received his education at York, and took cabinet making as a trade.

In 1905, at age seventeen, he came to Canada where he worked for several months for a farmer in Manitoba. He received a very bad impression of farmers in general when the farmer refused to pay him his wages. His next job was as a promoter with a circus. After several months he had enough money saved to return to England for a visit in 1907. He repeated this pattern for the next several years, returning to England in 1909 and again in 191 1. Upon his return to Canada he acquired a homestead at Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. This area was almost entirely a Catholic settlement, and through an agreement with the local priest, he was paid a sum to give up his claim in favor of someone of that faith.

In 1912 he waited in line when the three Lease Townships were thrown open for homesteads and filed on the N.E. 9-1-21-W4th.

On June 1, 1912, Ethel Florence Douthwaite of Scarborough, England and Florence Binns arrived in Lethbridge where Ethel Florence Douthwaite married Ernie Dalton, and Florence Binns married Joe Foggin. (The girls had tickets on the Titanic, but because of a family illness had to take a later boat to Canada. The Titanic hit an iceberg on this maiden voyage and sixteen hundred and thirty-five lives were lost.) They were married that day, June 1, 1912. On June 1, 1962, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversaries at their farm homes, and later on that day got together to recall old memories.

Ernie had to work out for farmers already established outside of the new area in order to earn enough money to establish his own farming operation.

He joined the P.P.C.L.I. in World War I and was shipped overseas in April, 1916, and was honorably discharged in 1919. After his discharge he returned to Del Bonita where Florence had kept the farm operating while he was away. This hardship was only a prelude for what was to come with the depression years. But in the meantime the land was broken and many improvements were made, due mainly to hard work and dogged determination. More land was purchased from the Coyle family, T. H. Stagg, and the Crookston family.

Florence was a very hard working person, helping with all the many things that had to be done, as well as managing a home and raising a family during the depression years. The three years alone with their small son during the war was an especially trying time for her.

Ernest was a very active community worker, involved in school and local government affairs, sports organizations, and every other type of community affairs. He served several years as a Justice of the Peace. He was a main factor in the centralization of the small district schools into the Del Bonita Centralized School which was the first centralized school in the province.

He, along with E. Pingree Tanner (Magrath Mayor and Businessman) worked for twenty-three years with Chambers of Commerce from southern Alberta to get the Del Bonita- Magrath road taken into the provincial highway system and thereby get it improved to highway standards. Upon Mr. Tanner's death, Ernest carried on the work, and along with the Cut Bank, Montana, Chamber of Commerce, of which he was made an Honorary Life Member, and Magrath Chamber of Commerce, of which he was also an Honorary Life Member, his dream of a hard surfaced road, Highway 62 was finally realized in 1964. He worked with the same groups to get improved Customs facilities on both sides ol'the border. He worked hard to get the C. P.R. rail line into Whiskey Gap.

People who knew him will always remember him for his wonderful smile, his cheerful optimistic outlook on life, and his leading of singing groups at church gatherings or social functions. He loved to travel, crossing the Atlantic Ocean eleven times. One of his trips across the ocean from England to Canada was as a Stowaway on a cattle boat. After a day and a half at sea, hunger forced him to reveal his presence. He was given a job tending the cattle. Ernie and Florence spent many weeks each year camping in Waterton Park, and British Columbia, where he hiked and fished wherever there were fish to catch.

Florence and Ernest had three sons; Ernie. They and their father all farmed together, although each owned his own farm. They also ran a commercial herd of Hereford cattle of which Ernest was rightfully very proud.

Ernest was still active in family and community affairs, and still fishing up until his death on November 10, 1968.

Florence passed away on December 5, 1974.

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Mary Tollestrup